News & Media


Raikkonen hopeful for Sprint Cup start at Infineon

May 26, 2011, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com

CONCORD, N.C. -- Kimi Raikkonen's relationship with Kyle Busch Motorsports may be over, but the former Formula One champion may continue his NASCAR adventure in a Sprint Cup car at Infineon Raceway.

Raikkonen, who makes his Nationwide Series debut Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, tested Robby Gordon's Sprint Cup car one day earlier this week at Virginia International Raceway, and said he'd like to attempt the June 26 event in Sonoma, Calif.

"He definitely has some car control for sure. That's not lip service."

--CARL EDWARDS

"It would be nice to go and do it, but I don't know if it's going to happen or not," said Raikkonen, who also competes on the World Rally circuit. "We'll see what happens really after this weekend. I have to go and do my rally stuff, so we'll see if I come back."

Any effort at Infineon isn't likely to be backed by Kyle Busch Motorsports, which fielded a Camping World Truck entry last weekend for the Raikkonen, who placed 15th in his NASCAR debut. Busch's team is also overseeing Raikkonen's Nationwide effort this weekend, although the Finn is racing a No. 87 car technically supplied and owned by the organization owned by Joe Nemechek.

"As far as the Sonoma race, we've had no discussions about Cup stuff at all," Busch said. "As far as I know, this weekend is the last hoorah with Kimi unless he wants to come back to do further races in NASCAR."

That's something of a change from the original plan, which was slated to be three to five races with KBM. The reason? "What's changed is the payment schedule," Busch said. "The contract states we're supposed to receive so much, and we have not. We've only received enough for these two races ... It's either up to Kimi or to the financial people that run Kimi's business side of things and decide they need to find the sponsorship funds in order to carry the experience for him further."

That doesn't rule out the possibility that Raikkonen could run the Sonoma race for Gordon, whose No. 7 car he tested at VIR. "Obviously it's what our goal was, to have a good test and see how it went," Gordon said. "Unfortunately, the test went bad. That doesn't mean we wouldn't do it still."

Any Robby Gordon Motorsports entry for Raikkonen at Sonoma would be a second car, although Gordon isn't sure whether it would be the No. 7 he usually drives -- which is locked into the top 35 in owners' points -- or a No. 77, which would have to make the race on speed. Although Gordon said he believes Raikkonen has sponsorship for a Sonoma effort, he added the car suffered damage in the test and would require about two weeks' worth of repair work.

"So we'd be two weeks out," Gordon said. "That was the car that finished second last year at Sonoma. So that was our primary. We've got our work cut out for us."

Raikkonen held his own in Nationwide practice, posting the 18th-fastest lap Thursday in the final session before Saturday's 300-mile race at Charlotte. He even caught the attention of Carl Edwards, who at one point radioed his race team and asked, "Who is that in the 87?"

"He is loose," Edwards said. "He was driving the wheels off it. I was just surprised. I didn't know who was in that car. Had no clue. Then I saw [sponsor] Perky Jerky on it. He definitely has some car control for sure. That's not lip service."